"White Sands National Monument by Kimberlyann" Top 5 Page for this destination White Sands National Monument by KimberlyAnn

White Sands National Monument Travel Guide: 116 reviews and 285 photos

I was set to view White Sands as an area of interest; I was not set to fall absolutely in love with it----which I did! This place really spoke to me. It moved me emotionally in a way I never expected. It was as though I could feel the mood of this place, and I longed to stay longer ----days----and experience and photograph her many moods. Where was I? At the beach? A sandbox? A wonderful area to go sledding? It was all of this and much more, but the part that I liked wasn't any of these. What I fell in love with was the vast, silent, isolation of this desert. For White Sands is a playground for locals, but leave the crowds behind and you have an experience unlike anything I have known before. The snow white dunes of White Sands National Monument, some as high as 60 feet, form waves of sand that driven by strong southwest winds march across this vast desert at a rate of about 12 feet a year. These dunes are formed by gypsum, which is washed down into the basin from the San Andres Mountains on the west and the Sacramento Mountains to the east. These mountains are rich with gypsum because a landlocked sea was here 250 million years ago. This monument was created in 1933 to protect these unique sand dunes, and the life that may be found within this desert. Although much of this desert is bare of plant life, some of the plants you will find in this desert are yucca, saltbush, and iodinebush. Diamondback and desert massasauga rattlesnakes, insects, kangaroo rats, pocket mice, and lizards make their homes here. Also living along the edges of the desert owls and nighthawks, and animals such as kit foxes, and coyotes take advantage of the night to hunt for prey on the desert floor.

This is a picture of me taking photographs in White Sands. At this time I had a different camera, and no zoom lens. I had just gotten into doing some reading on photography, and I did not have much knowledge about taking photographs, so I did some things quite wrong. Photographing these bright, white dunes is quite difficult. The dunes have a tendency to come out gray if you rely on your camera’s internal meter. I now know that if you have the ability to do so, you should overexpose shots that are composed of mainly white dunes in order to bring out the sand’s whiteness. If I ever get back to White Sands I would try a +1 1/2 or even a +2 compensation. I did use a polarizing filter to enhance the contrast, which is recommended by the park.

My husband took this photo of me after I hiked up to the top of one of the many wonderful dunes, it will give you some idea about the size of these dunes. So if you set off across White Sands on the marked hike, be prepared to do some up and down walking across the sand. I am not a particularly religious person, in that I don’t grasp any one religious belief, but I felt a real spiritual connection to the world when I entered this wonderland of white dunes, away from the crowds, feeling its isolation and stark beauty all around me.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful, sparkling white sand dunes.
  • Cons:This desert can be extremely hot, especially in summers. Always carry plenty of drinking water
  • Last visit to White Sands National Monument: Mar 1999
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (12)

Comments (8)

  • DSwede's Profile Photo
    Nov 27, 2008 at 5:36 PM

    I had this place on my list on a cross country road trip, but didn't make it in the end. Thanks for stopping by my Incline Village page. You should definitely make it up to Tahoe if you haven't already!

  • SLLiew's Profile Photo
    Apr 23, 2008 at 8:01 AM

    Enjoyed a virtual tour. I have not been to this National Monument. Thanks for sharing. SL :)

  • atufft's Profile Photo
    Apr 22, 2007 at 12:22 AM

    Thanks for the description of this place about which I've heard but never been.

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    May 3, 2006 at 5:32 PM

    great tips!

  • Nobbe's Profile Photo
    Jan 30, 2004 at 3:17 PM

    Stunning place!!! Hope to go there one day!! Looks like Sahara! =)

  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo
    Oct 31, 2003 at 4:07 PM

    FANTASTIC page and nature wonder I was lucky to visit on special day: Easter, first Easter in my life outside home. Hehe, I know what a picnic means in the USA now :-)

  • tpangelinan's Profile Photo
    Sep 19, 2003 at 2:01 PM

    Wow what a great page! Full of very helpful information and beautiful photos! :-)

  • kenmerk's Profile Photo
    Sep 6, 2003 at 3:52 PM

    Striking photos of the white dunes...


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